Each fall, the trails throughout the Proctor Woodlands are littered with acorns that threaten a rolled ankle even among the most nimble of hikers. As winter snows recede and spring temperatures catalyze the annual rebirth within the 2,500 acres of land Proctor calls home, some of these acorns will sprout and grow into saplings.
For the past 51 years, the first week of September at Proctor Academy has been synonymous with Wilderness Orientation. While last year’s Orientation program had to be altered due to COVID-19, Proctor’s 118 new students are set to head into the wilderness of the White Mountains for five days once again. The experience that awaits them - the vastness of the wilderness, the challenges of hiking high peaks, and the relationships forged with classmates and faculty leaders - will lay the foundation for their Proctor journey
The turn of the calendar to July signifies for educators that powerful moment when we can finally take a deep breath. End of year meetings, letters to advisors, and many details are wrapped up, we have had a few weeks to unwind from the stress of the school year, and can start to begin to process the beautiful chaos in which we swam for the past ten months.
Over the next week we will honor the Proctor Woodlands through a series of activities, videos, hikes, live classes, and messages from members of the Proctor community. Kicking off with today’s global celebration of Earth Day and culminating on Proctor’s celebration of Earth Day on April 29, this weeklong Woodlands Challenge will celebrate our connection to land, while generating support for a new educational center that will serve as a gateway to Proctor’s 2,500 acres of land.
As the Proctor community swings back to in-person learning this week, as the dorm pods loosen and disperse, the interconnectedness of all that is Proctor, the mycelium underneath, reveals itself. Coming back to in-person gets the network humming. Yes, we can do a lot remotely, but we get to the “it “ of learning by being in the landscape, not simply observing it from the outside.
Temperatures will plummet overnight as we bid farewell to a mild first half of December and anxiously await what Winter Storm Gail will bring Wednesday evening into Thursday. As the winter winds shift, we each have a choice to make: retreat indoors and curse the cold, snowy winter ahead or embrace the amazing outdoor recreation opportunities available to us in rural New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. At Proctor, we choose the latter.